Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the expected three-week lockdown Thursday in what he said was an effort to slow the accelerating spread of the coronavirus and prevent hospitals from becoming overrun, The Daily Caller reports.
The announcement followed a day after his own COVID-19 diagnosis.
“Today I am announcing additional, temporary COVID-19 protective mitigation measures in the commonwealth,” Wolf said in a statement. “With these measures in place, we hope to accomplish three goals: First, stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth. Second, keep our hospitals and health care workers from becoming overwhelmed. And third, help Pennsylvania get through the holiday season – and closer to a widely available vaccine–as safely as possible.”
“This is a bridge to a better future in Pennsylvania,” Wolf continued.
The restrictions will take effect Saturday and will remain until Jan. 4.
The restrictions include an indoor gathering limit of 10, an outdoor gathering limit of 50 and capacity restrictions at retail stores.
The order prohibits restaurants from indoor dining but allows for outdoor dining and take-out service.
Businesses must operate at half capacity and gyms and fitness centers can’t host any indoor operations.
Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other houses of worship were “ specifically excluded” from the indoor gathering limits, but state officials “strongly encouraged” them to avoid congregating inside.
“Faith leaders must carefully weigh the health risks to their congregants given the immense amount of community spread of COVID-19,” the guidance reads.
Pennsylvania reported 248 new deaths Thursday as the statewide toll passed 12,000, according to the Department of Health.